International Atomic Energy Agency chief in Tehran for high-level meetings with Iran officials News
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International Atomic Energy Agency chief in Tehran for high-level meetings with Iran officials

Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Monday traveled to Iran to meet with Iranian officials regarding the country’s accelerating nuclear program amid tensions in the wider Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war.

Grossi traveled to Tehran on Monday, where he held high-level meetings with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran. The content of their discussions has not been disclosed to the media. Grossi is expected to travel to Isfahan in central Iran on Tuesday before he ends his two-day visit and returns to Vienna, where he is expected to brief the media.

The IAEA is facing increasing challenges in monitoring Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program. With Iran now involved in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the IAEA, together with the US and its European partners, has warned against the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program. “Problems will not disappear. They will only get worse. So, we need to address this in a serious way,” Grossi said at an IAEA Board of Governors meeting held in April this year. The recent tensions and targeted attacks between Israel and Iran have endangered the city of Isfahan, where Iran’s nuclear program is headquartered.

In 2015, Iran entered into a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the US. Under the JCPOA, Iran has pledged that its nuclear program is peaceful and that the Iranian government has no plans to develop nuclear weapons. The deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015). Since the US’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018, tensions between Iran and the IAEA escalated as Iran abandoned limits on its program imposed by the deal. In March 2023, the IAEA reported the discovery of particles of uranium enriched to 83.7 percent in Iran, whereas weapon-grade uranium is enriched to 90 percent. In September 2023, Iran withdrew the designation of several IAEA inspectors conducting verification activities in the country.

Recently, Grossi told reporters that Iran was, “weeks rather than months” away from having enough enriched uranium to develop a nuclear bomb.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi responded to Grossi’s statement on April 27 by saying that “[t]his does not mean that Iran possesses or will possess a nuclear weapon in that period of time.” Reiterating that Iran would stick to peaceful exploitation of nuclear technologies, he called for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iran.